In this rather glorious UK heatwave 2018, it is important for all drivers to stay focused whilst at the wheel. According to SEAT, common air-conditioning mistakes – like immediately turning the system on full-blast – could be reducing its effectiveness. This could result in higher interior temperatures and possibly even dehydration.
When there is a difference of just 10°C inside the cabin, this can diminish reaction times by 20%, which is shockingly the equivalent to a blood alcohol reading of 0.05%, matching the Scottish limit and close to the maximum of 0.08% for the rest of the UK.
With recent UK outside temperatures soaring above 30°C, commuters and holiday-makers in particular could be at risk.
Did you know that cars parked in the sun can reach a startling 60°C? To help reduce cabin temperatures before setting off and while on the move, the Spanish car manufacturer – based in sunny Barcelona – has published the most common air conditioning mistakes that drivers make.
Top 5 tips from SEAT | Don’t let your air-conditioning lower your driving reaction time during Heatwave UK
Don’t turn the air conditioning to full blast as soon as you get in the car
When entering a hot car, it’s tempting to turn the air-con on to maximum. However, doing so without opening the windows will only recirculate the hot air. Instead, open the doors, lower the windows for a minute or two before shutting the doors and cranking up the A/C.
How to keep the air recirculation option activated
Keeping the A/C on can make the windows fog and reduce visibility. Most newer cars will have an ‘Auto’ option, which will regulate itself to stop this from happening, at the same time, keeping drivers and passengers cool.
Turn on the air conditioning in the morning
Some summer mornings can be cool, but in any event, it’s still wise to keep the A/C on to prevent windows from fogging up when the outside temperature rises.
Don’t point the air jets toward you
It is counter-productive to point the air jets toward you – this stops the car getting an even distribution of airflow. Pointing jets upward helps the cool air spread around the car more effectively to reach all occupants.
Perform regular maintenance
Just like oil, tyres and brake fluid, the air conditioning system requires maintenance. Not changing clogged cabin air filters every 10,000 to 15,000 miles can stop your A/C working effectively.
Don’t let your air-conditioning lower your driving reaction time during Heatwave UK
Engineers at SEAT spend three years developing each model’s cooling system. This time is used to study the geometry of the ducts and vents in 3D, with virtual simulations performed to predict how the air will flow inside the car.
An engineer at the SEAT Technical Centre, Ángel Suárez, said;
“Open the doors and lower the windows for a minute before turning on the air conditioning to naturally lower the temperature in the interior.”
If rear passengers say they can’t feel the cool air, then the nozzles could be set incorrectly.
“It isn’t a matter of temperature, but in which direction the air is flowing inside the car. The nozzles should be pointing upwards, not towards peoples’ faces. Then the air flows all around the interior of the car and reaches every passenger consistently.”